As 2013 draws to a close, the time has come to take stock of the previous 12 months.
The past year proved to be an extreme year in weather in many respects, with deadly tornadoes, wildfires, flash flooding, and even a devastating typhoon. Here’s a look back:
From May 18-21, a deadly tornado outbreak swept through the great plains. Over the course of four days, 61 tornadoes claimed 26 lives, injured 400 people, and caused an estimated $5 billion in damage. The worst tornado of the bunch was a powerful EF5 tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma, on May 20th. That tornado reached an unbelievable 210 miles an hour, destroying more than 1,500 homes, and damaging another 4,000 in its 17-mile path. That tornado alone was responsible for 24 of the 26 deaths of the outbreak.
In late June, a lightning strike set off a towering wildfire near the town of Yarnell, Arizona. The fire raged for nearly two weeks, destroying more than 100 homes and 8,000 acres of forest before it was fully contained on July 10th. Tragically, 19 firefighters lost their lives on June 30th trying to battle the blaze, making it the deadliest wildfire in Arizona history.
A little over a month after the Yarnell Hill fire, on August 17th, another wildfire started in the rim of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California after a hunter lit an unpermitted fire. The California Rim Fire was the third largest wildfire in California’s history, having burned 257,314 acres, including portions of Yosemite National Park. The fire threatened many of the park’s giant sequoias, which are some of the biggest and oldest living things on Earth, and displaced many wild animals. The fire burned for more than two months before it was finally contained on October 24th. Many buildings were destroyed, including 11 homes, but, despite the size of the blaze, there were only 10 injuries and no fatalities.
In early September, heavy rains that dumped as much as 20 inches on parts of Boulder, Colorado, resulted in widespread flash floods that destroyed roads, homes and shut down the region for weeks after. The flood claimed eight lives, destroyed 1,500 homes, and resulted in more than $2 billion in damage.
Finally, on November 7, Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Typhoon Yolanda, slammed into the Philippines, killing more than 6,000 people. This powerful storm was 3.5 times stronger than Hurricane Katrina, and buried portions of the island nation under a massive 15-foot high storm surge.
The one bright spot of 2013 was that it brought an unusually mild hurricane season. In fact, this year was the least active hurricane season in more than 30 years. Only two actual hurricanes formed — Hurricane Humberto and Hurricane Ingrid — and neither were major hurricanes. Both were only Category 1, the weakest rating.
What’s in store for the coming year? Check our long-range forecast!